Image Credit: Kevin McGinn Photographer




Many couples are moving away from traditional wedding venues and opting instead for theoutdoors. Jacinta Walsh prepares the ultimate checklist to consult when planning your outdoor wedding.

Image Credit: STUDIOMAX

The benefits of hosting an outdoor wedding are endless. From selecting your own providers, to saving a bit of extra cash, your creative boundaries are only as limited as you allow them to be. Take your outdoor wedding as an opportunity to cater to your sensibilities and history as partners; perhaps your ceremony will take place at the park where you met, or the beach where you shared your first kiss.

Planning a wedding may seem daunting at first, but it’s simply a matter of knowing where to begin. Here, Melbourne Wedding & Bride shares some top tips to consider when planning your alfresco affair.

Booking A Venue

While you can have your outdoor wedding just about anywhere these days, there are some logistics to consider first. If you’ve dreamed of exchanging vows in a public space, like in a park, garden or on a beach, then you will most likely need to obtain a permit first. You can usually apply for these permits online through the local city council.

Depending on where your wedding will take place, service fees and other costs may also be required. Public spaces are typically cheaper than traditional venues, but will vary in price due to factors such as their proximity to the city centre, heritage listing, and the length of time you will be using the space.

Before booking a venue, it’s also important to consider what facilities are available to your guests, such as if there are parking and toilet amenities nearby. A considerate bride is a favoured bride; something as simple as mentioning relevant parking details on the wedding invitations will put you in good stead with your guests.


In an outdoor setting, it’s far better to over-prepare as you will have less control over the environment. Outdoor weddings are subject to creepy crawlies, windy weather and temperamental temperatures, and while you can’t plan the weather, you can plan around it.

Come rain or shine, it’s important to provide shelter for your guests. Have a back-up plan in place; it might be as simple as moving to a different area on site or putting a deposit down on a tent in case the forecast is suddenly looking miserable a week before the event. In case plans

change, set up a wedding website or social media page for your guests to follow. Just pop the link on your wedding invitations to keep everyone in the loop.

Set Up

In regard to seating, certain parks and gardens have a 10-seat maximum, so be sure to reserve seats at the front for guests who really need them – you wouldn’t want your poor grandma standing for any longer than she needs to! Another aspect to consider when planning your seating arrangements is the position of the sun during the ceremony. To ensure your guests don’t miss a second of your nuptials, face seats away from the sun so it’s on their backs rather than in their eyes.


There were probably many reasons why you chose to have an outdoor ceremony, but it’s most likely because you loved the setting – allow that to shine! The decorations should only be an extension of the natural surroundings, so keep colours neutral and flowers aplenty.

Lastly, keep your guests safe and the atmosphere romantic with lighting that has both function and aesthetic merit. A popular choice among couples is festoon lighting, as well as fairy lights, candles and lanterns.


Before you fall in love with your wedding gown, think logically about whether or not it will suit the space in which your wedding will take place; there’s no point wearing mikado silk in the blazing heat or a heavy ball gown on a sandy beach. Light-weight fabrics like crepe, tulle and silk-organza work well in warmer weather and will ensure you stay comfortable on your wedding day. In regards to makeup, start with a good base.

Opt for primer and a matte foundation, which will increase staying power and reduce shine. To ensure your eye makeup doesn’t budge, use an eye primer, smudge-resistant eyeliner and waterproof mascara, and stay away from cream eyeshadows that will crease or melt in the sun. Also remember to carry a touch-up kit in case of emergencies. Include things like blotting paper, powder, lipstick and Q-tips.

If you’re really worried about wind and rain, opt for an updo. For touch ups, add a toothbrush to your emergency kit. Spray the bristles with hairspray and guide any flyaways back into place.

A veil will also work to protect your hair from the weather, while adding another gorgeous element to your bridal look.

Cocktails & Canapés

If you’re looking to make your day as stress-free as possible, consider utilising one location. Take advantage of a cocktail hour after the ceremony, where guests can enjoy drinks and canapés before the reception. To make use of the outdoor space, invite guests to partake in lawn games while getting to know one another. There’s no better way to break the ice than by introducing something light-hearted that will encourage conversation between guests who may have never met before.

The Reception

If you’re having your reception outdoors, it’s probably wise to invest in a tent or marquee. Be sure to consult your venue prior to organising a tent, as there may be restrictions on those that require posts nailed into the ground.

Linens, tables, chairs and dinnerware can usually be sourced from the same supplier. Even if you don’t plan on having a sit-down dinner, have enough seating to cater for elderly guests, as well as people who may prefer to sit down and have a chat. Place your tables close together to keep the atmosphere intimate and encourage guests to mingle in the one area.

Portable toilets are also a must if there aren’t sufficient toilet amenities on site, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using an established outdoor venue.


Perhaps one of the most important things to consider is your wedding entertainment. Regardless of whether you hire a band or DJ,
they’ll most likely need electricity to power their equipment. Liaise with your venue to arrange access to power points or extension leads, or invest in a generator (and a back-up one!) if you’re out in the open.

Enjoy The Day!

This step is the easiest. When the day arrives, it’s simply a matter of enjoying it! The planning is over, and all that’s left to do is celebrate your love with the people who matter the most. Take everything in and relish the beautiful setting around you – they don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing!